The Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Board of Directors recently appointed Rebecca Drohan as the Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper.
Waterkeepers act as a voice for local watersheds. Waterkeepers perform “boots on the ground” field work to monitor and defend our waterways. Waterkeepers focus on localized bodies of water while working collectively with neighbors to address larger issues. They work to hold polluters accountable, while engaging community members in education and outreach to bring about long term change. The public can always reach out to Waterkeepers to report concerns in their watershed. CCRW can be reached at www.coastalcarolinariverwatch.org/report-a-problem/
Lisa Rider, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Executive Director, noted, “We are grateful to work along-side Rebecca Drohan. She is a true advocate for our waterways. She walks it like she talks it and is a role model for others wanting to do more to protect the quality of water and quality of life in eastern North Carolina. She has the perfect combination of technical skills and passion that supports our mission.”
“In her nearly three years with CCRW, Rebecca has rapidly grown into her responsibilities and is ready and excited to take on the new challenges of Waterkeeper. She is passionate about our mission of water quality and fully prepared to elevate our work in protecting the ENC environment,” shared Board President, Rick Kearney.
Rebecca joined the staff of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch in the Fall of 2018. In her previous position as Program Coordinator, she worked to engage the community through coordinating volunteers for litter cleanups and water monitoring, interactive programming for school age children, creating virtual outreach content, and partnering with local businesses on plastic reduction initiatives. In her three years at CCRW, Rebecca received on-the-job training in water sample collection and analysis, aerial watershed observations, and water quality advocacy.
Katie Tomberlin, Board Vice President, added, “I met Rebecca the first week she came to work for CCRW. I have been fortunate to witness her passion for the environment, work alongside her and watch her grow in this field. She is exactly what we need here in a Waterkeeper, and we are lucky to have her on board with us.”
Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. Her background includes outdoor education at Hemlock Bluffs State Nature Preserve and organizing on fossil fuel issues in the Chesapeake region.
“Being your Waterkeeper is a position I am honored to have, and one I take very seriously. Having grown up kayaking, swimming, and exploring North Carolina’s watersheds, I developed a great admiration for our natural world and became inspired to protect it. However, not everyone has been afforded the same privilege of clean and safe waterways to enjoy. Our rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters are so precious but are subject to many threats. As Waterkeeper I will advocate for clean water for all.” said Rebecca Drohan, Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper.
Drohan will lead several initiatives as Waterkeeper, which will support the mission of CCRW, to protect and enhance the waters, land, and communities of eastern North Carolina.
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) subject our rivers to fecal contamination and pollute the air in surrounding communities. Through the “Pure Farms Pure Waters” campaign, we work with other NC Waterkeepers and several amazing statewide advocates to address these impacts. CCRW collects regular water samples in our service area to monitor bacteria levels surrounding CAFOs. We also do aerial monitoring to look for violations. By collecting this data we can track trends on how these facilities are affecting our waters. We can then work with our partners to advocate for the reform of these destructive industries. We have the greatest respect for NC’s local, sustainable farms and are working on initiatives to support these alternatives.
Microplastics are another form of pollution plaguing our waterways. Plastics never truly break down. Instead, they breakup into tiny pieces called microplastics. Microplastics can attract toxins and be ingested by aquatic life. Microplastics have become so pervasive that they are present in the human body. CCRW is participating in a two year microplastic study in the New River. We are collecting water and sediment samples to be analyzed for microplastic content. This project is in partnership with all other NC Waterkeepers and will provide valuable information about the scope of NC’s microplastic problem.
NC fishing communities depend on clean water as a way of life. They spend more time on the water than perhaps anyone else and are deeply impacted by water quality issues. CCRW’s Water Quality for Fisheries program addresses water quality impacts on NC fisheries. Through a research based survey, we identified five water quality priority concerns from our fishing communities. We developed an Industry Working Group made up of commercial and recreational fishermen to collaboratively address these concerns. Through an assessment process we are evaluating what is currently being done on these issues and working to identify areas of need.
Moving forward, we have several other projects we are looking to implement in our watershed. We are currently seeking funding for “Equity in the Environment”. This is a mentorship program designed to diversify environmental leadership by empowering underrepresented youth in Eastern NC. This program will pair students with expert mentors specializing in different areas of environmental study. Each student will undergo unique field experiences throughout our watershed and receive a scholarship to foster future success.
“Though we are up against formidable challenges, we are working everyday to protect our local waterways. We couldn’t do it without the help of our community, volunteers, and members. Together, we are working towards a more sustainable and just future for residents in our watershed, and beyond.” – Rebecca Drohan, Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper